My Mental Health Journey
Self-love, acceptance and getting help.
I know that we will have all experienced that as mental health awareness month comes around all our social medias are flooded with posts about how important mental health is and how important it is to speak out. As much as I do agree with these posts, I never have had the guts until recently to actually speak out myself, and even with me reaching out for help it has also been an extremely difficult thing for me to then share my mental health difficulties with friends and family.
I guess the best way for me to explain my journey is to express what I feel has caused me to be the way I am today so bear with me as I take you through a very rough outline of my life.
From as early as I can remember I have always struggled immensely with anxiety. I was a very very shy child, and that is to put it lightly! I was known by all of my teachers for basically being the quietest person on earth, and that is not something that necessarily helped. Being constantly laughed at for not speaking and going to every parent’s evening to be told that you don’t speak, is not something that should be viewed as problematic. What would these teachers rather, me be loud and disruptive?
So yeah, elementary school was not necessarily the easiest time of my life but also not necessarily the most traumatic either. I think this is just where my anxiety developed for a variety of reasons ranging from being ridiculed for not speaking to just stressing about everything including how I was going to perform within sports.
High School didn’t start off the best for me, with me going into it having essentially fallen out with my best friend for the previous 10 years of my life. My shyness definitely did not disappear during High School, I still had to sit there every parent’s evening and be sat there as my Mum was informed She just needs to speak more and She is very shy.
Towards the beginning of high school, one of my friends who had been living elsewhere moved back into town. She wasn’t the nicest to me when she came back, to say the least. She, for some reason felt it was her goal in life to turn all my friends against me. So that resulted in me having to change to a different form and half of the year as this began severely affecting my mental health.
As high school went on though I did manage to make friends for life, notably my friends Ruby and Cameron who I honestly would be so lost without. However, towards the last two years of school I did somewhat begin to get bullied. A girl who I barely knew took it upon herself to build a hatred for me out of nothing, except from briefly mentioning her name when asking my other friend if she was okay. So yeah, that then spiraled into her hissing at me as I walked by her and expressing to everyone how much of a horrible person I was, absolutely ideal I know.
All of this happening did not exactly help with me dealing with stress and now what I know was probably anxiety, at one point it even resulted in me physically making myself sick to avoid going into school. Upon reflection that was an extremely stupid thing to do, I did have a very strong support system around me and I should have just known to reach out to them.
I then moved to college, mainly due to not wanting to stay in the same environment as High School if I am being completely honest. Throughout my time at college, I made a very close friendship group whom I am still very reliant upon to this day. My mental health issues definitely were not something that was at the front of my mind when around these people.
Anxiety still somewhat persisted during college, but I think every teenager experiences this when it comes to exams, etc.
So yeah, college years were also not the best years of my life but not actually due to college itself if that makes sense more because of a relationship I was in at the time which I will get into now.
The main issue for me in college was the very toxic relationship I was in at the time. To put it short, he treated me like shit. To my knowledge, all he spent his time doing was lying to me and gaslighting me. I did eventually build up the courage to break up with him, before then getting back with him a week after. Good one Han! But yeah, don’t worry during lockdown he broke up with me, for not trusting him… I wonder why… I am so grateful we aren’t together anymore, but that whole experience definitely has put me off relationships for quite a while. He definitely hindered how I viewed my self-worth, and to be honest I feel as though to some extent I am still in that place now. When someone who you invest all your time and energy in makes you feel like you’re not good enough I guess that is what it does to you.
Two years on and I can say I have been nowhere near getting into another relationship, I just think I still need a bit longer to focus on myself. And who needs a man getting in the way of that? But hey, don’t get me wrong if Prince Charming showed up at my doorstep I definitely would not be saying no.
My Mum and my sister are the most stable support system I have. They are there no matter what, as families should be I guess. I do not have a bad word to say about either of them, even if they do sometimes get on my nerves, they have helped me get through a lot and there aren’t two more people in the world that I could be more grateful to have.
My Dad on the other hand, although I of course love him to bits, we have not necessarily always had the smoothest relationship. Our personalities just clash if that makes sense, there have been a few points in my life where we have gone through stages of just not speaking at all and stages in life where there hasn’t been anyone I have got on with better. But he works away a lot so maybe that has something to do with our relationship not being the strongest. However, he can be very malicious at times and well not the most understanding when it comes to my mental health difficulties so that’s not exactly helpful.
I also don’t think this article would be mine at all if I didn’t include something about my dogs. Every single one of you reading this who has a pet must understand that they are the best emotional support you can have, even though they can't actually speak to you.
I guess this is the part where it gets a bit deep. Over one year in my life I did manage to lose three friends and my Great Nan. Something I hope none of you have had to have gone through. It wasn’t the easiest time in my life to say the least but I will very briefly explain it to you.
One friend, died in a car crash, she was a friend I had known my entire life.
One friend died of a heart attack a couple of months after, she was my best friend throughout high school and had struggled with heart issues her entire life.
One friend, committed suicide, she was a very close friend of mine on my course at university. I think she is the main reason I am now so passionate about raising awareness, and I wish it hadn’t had been that way. It shouldn’t have taken a suicide of someone close to me for me want to raise awareness.
That’s that, and it comes without explanation I assume that the process of dealing with grief is not an easy one. Having to attend three funerals of three people who should still be here with us today isn’t something easy, but it does put into perspective how short and unexpected life is.
So now to when I decided to get help. I am currently 20, and well I only decided it was right for me to get help a few months ago. I had tried reaching out to talking therapies before, even having an introductory call with my university’s mental health services, but I just feel like talking about things isn’t the best thing for me. Not at the time being anyway.
So, I opted instead for contacting the doctors. It did take a lot for me to get to this point so if you are currently feeling as though this is an easy thing to do, don’t worry I understand it isn’t. But yeah, I reached out to the doctors, I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety and I received anti-depressants. I found the first dosage they gave me didn’t help but the second dosage which I am currently on definitely does seem to be making a difference.
I do intend on getting further help beyond just medication but given this being such a big step for me to take in the first place I am just trying to gradually building up to that. But for the time being, I can say I am progressing towards happiness and looking after myself.
In no way at all am I suggesting your experience must have been in any way similar to mine in order to reach out and get help. Everyone’s journey is completely different.
I am simply using this as a platform to raise awareness for mental health and encourage you to get help. Even if it isn’t going the full way and is instead taking things one step at a time as I am. And if you don't feel it's the right time for you to get help right now, just take extra care of yourself for the time being. You will get there I promise.
But please remember, even if it isn’t you suffering someone you know probably is. Life is way too short, be kind to everyone you meet, you truly do never know what anyone is going through.